Quantifying the effect of nootropics

Hi everyone,
After reading about a lot of positive research results recently I have decided to add caffeine (and possibly Ritalin later on) to my Soylent.
The problem is how do you measure and quantify its effects on my consciousness and mental performance?
Do you guys have any suggestions regarding methods and techniques to do it as reliably as possible?



  • In my opinion, the most effective way to do so would be through self-awareness. For example develop a scale rating from one to 10 or one to 20, incorporate the scale into a journal process where you also record the data you personally see/feel for each entry. Decide on whether you want one daily entry, or as I would recommend, three entries (morn/noon/night, etc).

    Now using this method you would need clinical information that you would be able to use to identify noticeable differences, both positive and negative. Preferably record the data using the above information for one month prior to addition of a foreign element (caffeine, Ritalin, etc). For each entry include whatever scales you choose to incorporate as well as a brief two or three sentences on your identifiable general overall wellness.

    When your experimental phase ends, review your data and highlight/count, the overall pros and cons of each series.
  • edited July 2014
    Subjective scales are great for personal research, but for sharing your information, objective data is the way to go. Of course, a single sample size is hardly rigorous, but it's a start. In some of my other experiences with nootropics and stimulants, I do a click time reaction test 10 times over ten minutes, do a typing speed test, work out a 20 slot quadratic probed hash table (covers addition/subtraction, modulo math, and basic multiplication), and a memory/matching test. Let me reiterate - this isn't a statistically significant sample size, but it covers reaction time, coordination, basic math, and memory/recall.
  • First, read this:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23108937

    Second. Caffeine and Ritalin aren't nootropics, they are "cognition enhancers". It's an important difference.  Nootropics are defined as performance enhancers with no addictive properties and no side effects. Caffeine is very addictive and long term usage generally has negative side effects

    Beyond that, it's pretty difficult to measure the effects of a substance in a single individual recording themselves. There's a huge amount of bias and placebo effect. I would suggest using a Dual-N-back Test online and measuring your performance for a week before starting your supplements and then for two weeks after

  • Great study. I recently researched some of the downsides of caffeine and you're right, the argument for the long term is tricky to make. Hard because I love my coffee so much! Then again though, I wonder if any nootropic can truly be described as having no side effects?

    Dual N-Back test is a great measure. For me it's about personal results and what I specifically want for my goal. In my case that's productivity, specifically with regards to writing, attention and problem solving as I'm a writer and programmer. On an average day I write 7,500-15,000 words, and so I get a very clear feedback with regards to how well any routine/stack is working. I.e. am I consistently writing more, or consistently writing less?

    What aspect of mental performance is it that you're interested in specifically?
  • I'm a student so my metrics would be almost identical to yours.
    Essentially productivity, problem solving, attention and focus.

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